Tha Kaek, Khammouane’s provincial capital, is a small yet scenic town located along the Mekong River.
A former Indochina trading post, Tha Kaek is a quaint town filled with vintage French villas, riddled with Chinese shops, and unlimited opportunities for exploration and adventure. Tha Kaek is the starting point of the famous “Loop” — a journey through different landscapes — and home to several famous landmarks such as the Kong Lor Cave.
Tha Kaek may not be the most exciting town in Laos, but it is a tourist favorite when it comes to adventure-filled activities. The tourism office of Khammouane offers a guided tour to Phu Hib Bun NPA, one of Tha Kaek’s national park that’s considered a perfect spot for nature lovers — stunning vistas of towering krasts, turquoise streams, and impressive forests welcome visitors. If you’re at Tha Kaek, don’t miss the impressive caves found all over Route 12 — visit Tham Xieng Lap which is home to soft-shelled turtles and Laotian rock rats, enjoy a one-of-a-kind boat ride through Tham Nang Aen’s underground river, and be amazed by Tham Kong Lor’s jaw-dropping beauty. An adventurer’s trip to Tha Kaek is never complete without taking on the Loop — a circular tour through a 100-kilometre stretch featuring jagged landscapes and the most stunning views. To end your trip, don’t forget to make a stop over at Khoun Kong Leng where you can enjoy a fun barbecue party along its banks, and take a quick, refreshing dip in its pristine waters.
The airport nearest to Tha Kaek is Nakhon Phanom Airport. From the airport, take a bus to Tha Kaek. Fare costs around THB 35 (USD 2.5)
From Vientiane, proceed to the Southern Bus station where you can find buses heading out to Tha Kaek. Total travel time from Vientiane to Tha Kaek is 7 hours and costs LAK 80,000 (USD 9) for local buses, and LAK 100,000 (USD 12) for VIP buses. The bus stations are located 5-kilometres from the city centre so you can choose to arrange for hotel pick-up services that increase in fare from LAK 100,000 to 130,000 (USD 12 to 15.5) or opt for tuk-tuks that charge LAK 50,000 (USD 6) for a one-way trip.
If you’re coming from Pakse, the trip via local bus can take up to 10 hours and costs LAK 90,000 (USD 10.80).
Laotian Kip (LAK), the currency accepted in most of the establishments in Tha Kaek, is available in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000. There are two banks in Tha Kaek — BCEL and Lao Development Bank. Lao Development bank offers ATM and money exchange services, while BCEL accepts foreign currency exchange and cash advances to debit and credit cards. Make sure to spend all your kip because you can’t reconvert it to dollars once you leave Laos.
The best time to go to Tha Kaek is from November to March when the temperature around the region is much cooler. The hot season begins from March to May with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius. However, if you’re planning to take on the Loop, this time still works. Best to avoid visiting Tha Kaek from May to October since heavy rainstorms can affect your travel plans.
You can travel around Tha Kaek via tuk-tuk which usually costs around LAK 5,000 to 10,000 ( USD .60 to 1.2) per person. Several places around the town center offer bikes-for-rent which you can avail for LAK 10,000 (USD 1.2) per day. Motorcycles are also for rent for LAK 50,000 (USD 6) per day.
There are not a lot of food options around Tha Kaek and some of the available restaurants do not really serve impressive dishes. However, you can try visiting Tha Kaek’s night market where you can find tasty Lao street food such as meat skewers, fried dumplings, yellow noodles soup, fried donuts, and hot soy milk for a budget of LAK 15,000 (USD 1.80). Mekong’s main square also has night stalls where you can avail of barbecue, salads, and drinks! Some of the fancier restaurants around town include Le Bouton d’Or Boutique Hotel’s restaurant, The Kitchen, and Mama Lao. Restaurant prices range from LAK 30,000 to 50,000 (USD 3.60 to 6).
Tha Kaek may not have a lot of attractions compared to other places in Laos, it still offers something unique, fresh, and exciting. If you want to see more of Laos’ natural beauty, visiting Tha Kaek is the best thing to do. Conquering the Loop can make your Laos experience more memorable.